Monthly Archives: April 2015

Finding Joy Again

I didn’t work much this week. I’m not sure what’s going on, beyond the area manager trying to eliminate overtime, but days have been short and few. So, I’ve done some badly neglected yard work around the house. Stuff that’s been neglected because of evil animals and their owners who are no longer part of the environment. Just after I first got laid off from the photo studio, I was doing this stuff and keeping my weight down. Then a couple of years ago, things changed and I stopped working in the yard. Things have righted themselves recently, so I’m back to doing things around the house. Hopefully, I’ll take off some of the weight I’ve gained.

But yard work means I’m not focusing on the StarSea on days off, at least as much as if I were to just sit around on my days off and try to work on it. Not that I’ve done that, at this point. There’s always something demanding my attention, and I’m certainly not practicing anything mentioned in The War of Art. I have a hard time saying “no” when asked to do something around the house, or anything similar, and I’ve commented plenty of times how easy it is for me to distract myself.

But this week, while working, I started doing some sketching. I haven’t sat myself down and sketched like I did this week in years. I let my mind wander a little bit while driving, thinking about how vehicles would move in the StarSea. That led me to trying to figure out shapes 0f boats and ships, which led me to engines and rudders and such. That also led me to ask myself how the magic fuel is stored, so I designed some fuel cells, which end up more looking like Green Lantern‘s power battery from the movie (but a little less organic). I went off on tangents, considering how the Arcanists or the Divine Order might modify the design (or more accurately, what they might have designed that the Psionics have refined). I enjoyed the process quite a bit.

This designing leads me to wonder if game-ifying this setting is what I really want. Part of me does, as gaming is a great way to share the setting. But part of me is rebelling at the idea, I think, contemplating it as a venue for fiction of my own creation only. I will say that part of the simplification of the character creation system I mentioned last week was me moving towards the simpler system leading to a simpler format for character stat blocks. In my head, the stat block for a character built with Modes becomes complicated, as I envisioned it, and the simplification of the characters became more inline with what a reader might see in a comic book-style stat book, like DC’s Who’s Who or The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe, which I prefer. This seems to be common to all of the stat blocks I’ve seen of FAE characters versus Fate Core characters: FAE characters are simply more readable.

Part of me wants to see what other people would do with this universe, and part of me dreads that, as I have a certain vision for what I want of this universe. I want to focus on the intrigue between knights and their factions and opposing factions. I’m not especially interested in the criminal element that is prominent in Star Wars, but that I know other folks really like.

It’s getting late now, and I’m not going to answer these questions tonight. so I think this is where I bid you all adieu. So…


When It Rains…

…It pours. And it rained on me last week. After Easter, I spent time with the Kids one day that week, but that Friday, the shit hit the fan. My mother ended up with another infection, which is common for those with diabetes. I ended up losing my morning to some stuff related to her, and then a chunk of the afternoon getting her to the hospital and admitted.

Later in the day, I tried to boot up my laptop, and it refused. I was able to do a couple of tests that led me to the conclusion that my boot sectors of my hard drive were hosed, a conclusion which has since been held out. So, I got out the original hard drive the laptop shipped with (which I had replaced after a couple of years as had too little storage), go out and buy a new hard drive, format it, and restore my system. As the HD that was broken hadn’t been backed up for a while, I had to hand restore the system (a long, slow process). I thought I finally had everything done Wednesday. However, this Thursday I discovered that I couldn’t print. After some poking around on the Net, I discovered that this is a common issue between Acrobat and HP printers, and seems to be an Adobe issue. Before the research, I assumed that it was issues with the HD changeover, and wasted a lot of time with trying to reinstall the drivers.

In the midst of the weekend of shit-fan impact was International Tabletop Day, to which I took the Girl (and only her, as the Boy was still working on homework he’d put off since his Spring Break had started). We had fun with the day, but of course, while you’re gaming, you’re not getting other things done.

So, I again broke my promise to myself to get some character building done. Really, the mix-up with the Bookwyrm convention left me with no impetus to actually meet the deadline of this weekend to have this stuff done. And worse, self-doubt and double-thinking has created reasons for me to distract myself as well.

I’ve considered going back to a more FAE-style character building system, and I can only see one reason not to: character progression. Friend Will pointed out to me that with only six skills, the advancement system of FAE (Fate Accelerated Edition) is going to allow players to raise their skills quite quickly (a +1 every 3 sessions approximately, on a +0 to +8 scale, starting between +0 and +3). However, part of me likes the idea of simplifying my skill list and getting rid of modes, as it allows a broader base for PC actions and abilities. That is, players will get bonuses to most rolls, and therefore can feel their character is competent at many things.

My thought is to redefine the six approaches of FAE as specializations that are comparable to classes. So, characters would have ratings in Soldier, Infiltrator, Loremaster, Commander, Artificer, and Cavalry (a catch-all which would include all sorts of vehicle usage), rather than Modes that are essentially the same things. Let me explain further: In my previous iteration, I using Modes, which are groups of skills that players rate their characters in. The Soldier mode included Athletics, Fight, Notice, Physique, and Provoke. Notice was added to give soldiers the ability to be watchful as guards, but everything else makes sense for a soldier and provides little mechanical benefit other than bonuses to certain rolls (except Physique, which provides a bonus to “hit points,” and that can be folded into Soldier). You choose to rate that mode, and all the skills in that mode are typically at the same level (there are exceptions, but not regularly). Those kinds of skill groups are more or less how Bare Bones Fantasy works, and it was an idea that really attracted me to that system. Buy one “skill,” get a host of related things you can do with it. Creating modes was becoming a wrestling match anyway, so this change simplifies things for me. I think it will also create a tidier character sheet, especially for any major NPCs I choose to present.

This system fits with the fictions that influence my setting. For example, in Star Wars, all of the Jedi and Sith are competent at more than just sword slinging. They have their use of the Force, but they are also often physically skilled, they can fly ships, might be good with computers, or have a host of other skills. That could easily be simulated more easily with a handful of broader skills than a list of 20 or more specific skills.

With magical healing available, the whole advancement system of Fate/FAE can be scrapped. Fate advancement works like it does to slow healing and advancement, as far as I can see. They deliberately do not include magical healing, and comment on this in the rulebook. You get opportunities every session to rename aspects, which is how you heal consequences, injuries to body and mind more serious than a bruise, and failing to take those opportunities to rename consequences mean they linger. I’d like a more Storyteller/Hero System/Cypher System XP system anyway, so this would be a chance to build it.

So, that’s where I’m at and where I’ve been for two weeks. Thanks for bearing with me.

Right now, I need to go. I’m tired, and I’ve exhausted my thinking for now. Later.

More of the Same

Nothing to report, really. While I worked nearly every day this week, they were short days for the most part. The biggest thing I learned was that I have a talent for ending up in a seat on the sunny side of the car, which is an issue with the iPad. Like the commercials for the Kindle with the really cute brunette at the poolside, iPads don’t work well in sunlight.

Not that I have done much of import. I’ve just continued to be distracted. About the only thing I’ve got going on in my head is a couple of concepts for characters. I do need to test character building in the StarSea setting, so that’s something. I have one Psionic, an infiltrator sort of character, and an Arcanist, a woman who will stop at nothing to accomplish her goals. I need more concepts for all the Orders, but this is a start. I just need to sit down and work out the ones I’ve got in mind currently.

I think I missed a distraction last week. I started buying the D&D Dice Masters game a couple of weeks ago, and I’ve been picking up booster packs as well. So far, the kids have been beating me with the Yugi-Oh! Dice Masters set, but that’s because Blue Eyes White Dragon seems a little broken.

So, that’s it. Mainly, I wanted to get back on schedule. After goofing off until Tuesday, I wanted to get back to my Sunday night schedule. By next time, I’m going to have a couple of characters built and see what they look like. I might even post them here, if I can get them in a good format.

See you next week. Later.

New Blog Po… Bunnies!

I can announce, right off the bat, that I’m 99% over my cold, and in only two weeks. I get some coughing on occasion, especially when I get hot, or first thing in the morning. But largely, I’m over it. Last summer, I was coughing for two months. I can’t wait for fire season… </sarcasm>

StarSea work as been limited, as I’ve been distracting myself. I think contributing to my lack of motivation, in addition to fear of success, has been a lack of written fiction. I’ve read a couple of comic books, but nothing else other than rulebooks, which are notoriously lacking in entertainment, in and of themselves. They’re tools for entertainment, but not entertaining.

So, Sunday night I started reading the Swords Trilogy, one of the books I picked up last year from the books store. This book is the first three Corum novels. I re-read the comics a few months ago (before I picked up this hardback), but the actual text is so much better. Again, his descriptions are wonderful in their depth and imagination.

As well, there’s a forward by Michael Moorcock commenting on how he was in Cornwall when he started the book, and that they were inspired by Cornish myth. Of course, this meant I did some research on the Cornish language and the pronunciation on some of the words. (Corum’s full name is Corum Jhaelen Irsei, he’s of a race called the Vadhagh, who have enemies called the Nadragh. Welcome to self-inflicted world.)

I also found a new distraction on my iPad, called King’s Road. It’s basically a Diablo-style game. On the up-side, I’ve only wasted a few hours on it. It plays pretty easy, and hasn’t presented any crazy challenges that I can’t get past, so I’m enjoying it for now. It’s a freemium game, which annoys me a little, but it’s not stopping me, yet.

The little bit of work I did on the StarSea was some work on the Aphorisms. I have the third for the Psionics (“Our Gifts are meant to be shared.“), and a couple for the Arcanists (“Power is meant to be seized,” and “Those without Power are slaves.“) I’m not entirely happy with the Arcanists’ phrases, but the’ll do for now.

While I was reading Corum last night, I did get inspired with an image of a personal anti-grav carriage, and did a little sketch. Not sure I need another little bit of tech to be floating around (pun not intended), but it was a nice little exercise, and one I hope is the start of me getting back into a more creative mindset and break this logjam.

I think that’s it for this week. Later.